VC holders honoured at Leeds memorial

PAYING RESPECTS: Councillor Jim McKenna and Keith Loudon OBE, at the Victoria Cross memorial.
PAYING RESPECTS: Councillor Jim McKenna and Keith Loudon OBE, at the Victoria Cross memorial.
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Two former Lord Mayors of Leeds have honoured the city’s Victoria Cross (VC) holders ahead of this year’s Remembrance Day.

Councillor Jim McKenna, chairman of the planning committee, and Keith Loudon OBE visited the city’s memorial to VC holders to show their gratitude and respect.

The pair honoured those VC holders who were either born or died in Leeds, at the plaque at the junction of Headrow and Park Row.

Keith said: “We should all be grateful for their sacrifice.”

Among the names on the plaque is an ancestor of Coun McKenna; Colours Sgt Edward McKenna of the 1st Battalion 65th Regiment (later the Yorks and Lancs Regiment).

He was aged 36 when he was awarded the VC, for the following deed:

“On September 7, 1863 near Camerontown, New Zealand, after both his officers had been shot, Colour-Sergeant McKenna, with a small force, 
heavily outnumbered by the enemy, charged through their 
position with the loss of one man killed and one missing. The colour-sergeant’s coolness and intrepidity amply 
justified the confidence placed in him by the soldiers brought so suddenly under his command.”

In 1865, Sgt McKenna’s regiment was called back to England, but he remained in New Zealand.

He later joined the New Zealand Railways, going on to become station master, before retiring in the early 1880s. He died in 1908.

Coun McKenna said: “I have only a distant relationship to Sgt McKenna, but every time I walk past the memorial to local heroes who were awarded the Victoria Cross I feel a surge of pride.

“It’s people like him who were prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for Queen and country.”

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